How Autonomous Vehicles Could Give Car Designs an Upgrade

Self driving cars have the ability to bring in a world of new design opportunities.

by Aaron Aupperlee,The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review / August 25, 2017

(TNS) -- Will the age of self-driving cars signal the end for car shows and collectors?

Autonomous car experts told car enthusiasts at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in Monterey, California, not to worry.

Self-driving cars could open up a whole new school of design.

“There will be a lot more opportunity for beauty,” Chris Urmson, a Carnegie Mellon University graduate whose self-driving startup Aurora Innovation has an office in Pittsburgh, said on a panel Wednesday.

The panel discussion, “From Here to Autonomy,” was the first-ever self-driving car event held at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, French for competition of elegance and considered one of the most prestigious shows in the world. The Revs Institute, a car museum, library and research center in Naples, Florida, sponsored the panel.

Urmson, who went to work for Google on its self-driving car startup after leading a CMU team to victory in the DARPA Urban Grand Challenge in 2007, said driverless cars could free designers to be more expressive, according to the Revs Institute .

Urmson was joined on the panel by Christopher Svensson, Ford's top global designer for SUVs, trucks and commercial vehicles. Ford has pledged to invest $1 billion over the next five years in Argo AI, a Pittsburgh-based autonomous car startup headed by University of Pittsburgh grad Bryan Salesky.

“When you design the interior of a car, you start with the driver, but we need a different approach if there isn't a driver,” Svensson said on the panel. “This fundamental shift in thinking will challenge design teams to create new ideas.”

Other panelists included Miles Collier, founder of the Revs Institute and a car collector; Simon Kidston, a car buying strategist, and Paul Ingrassia, editor-in-chief at the Revs Institute, who moderated the discussion.

©2017 The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.